Embry Womens Health
What is Menopause?
Menopause is a natural phase in a woman’s life which occurs when she has stopped producing functional eggs. At birth women have about 1 to 3 million functioning eggs and by the time a woman reaches menstruation she has around 400,000. At menopause, women can have less than 10,000. While some are indeed lost through ovulation, many die naturally in a process referred to as atresia. As menopause draws near, the eggs is a woman’s body become resistant to FSH, or follicle-stimulating hormone, and the ovaries drastically reduce production of estrogen. At menopause, testosterone production is also decreased. These changes often cause numerous unwanted symptoms.
What are the symptoms of menopause?
Changes in progesterone and estrogen levels, hormones related to the reproductive system, occur as a woman ages. These hormonal swings typically begin several years before your final period and may produce symptoms that include:
- Changes in your menstrual period: Including lighter or heavier bleeding and fewer or more frequent periods
- Hot flashes and night sweats: That can last for seconds or a long as 10 minutes
- Vaginal dryness: Discomfort during sexual intercourse and may lead to vaginal infections
- Loss of bladder control: Urinary leakage during coughing bouts, exercise, and routine activity
- Altered sleep patterns: Difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep
- Mood changes: Similar to mood swings experienced during puberty
- Weight gain: Changes in body shape, such as thickening about the waist, and loss of muscle tone
- Decreased interest versus increased enjoyment of sex
What are the health concerns related to menopause?
Science is not sure, but estrogen may act as a protective measure against developing conditions such as osteoporosis or heart disease, though these conditions are also linked to the natural aging process. Some women enjoy the freedom that comes with cessation of their menstrual periods. But the psychological impact of menopause is often a major challenge for women who face concerns related to the aging process.
The average age of menopause is 51, and that’s also about the time your doctor may start recommending more frequent screening labs and diagnostic studies to monitor for diabetes, elevated cholesterol levels, and certain cancers. All of these changes hitting at once can be overwhelming. The good news is that the experts at Embry Women’s Health can help you manage your symptoms and potentially enjoy rather than dread the life that comes after menopause.
How do you manage menopause?
The dedicated practitioners at Embry Women’s Health manage menopause from a personal and professional perspective. They’re focused on decreasing your symptoms, providing guidance on the emotional impact of menopause, and monitoring for concerning changes in your physical health. They accomplish their goals through:
- Physical exams, screening labs, and in-depth discussion to establish your current phase of menopause and recommend a care plan
- Possible hormone therapy to ease your symptoms
- Tips on how to handle hot flashes, sleep disturbance, and other issues related to menopause
- Guidance regarding a nutritious diet and an active lifestyle that keep your musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, and other systems functioning normally
- Herbal remedies or supplements to relieve your symptoms and supplement the metabolic imbalances related to menopause
- Diagnostic studies such as DEXA scan to monitor your bone density
What Treatments Are Available for Severe Menopausal Symptoms?
When the symptoms of menopause interfere with a woman’s everyday life there are a variety of treatments which can be used including:
- Lifestyle changes- Diet and exercise can help to keep the woman in good physical health and avoiding potential triggers such as spicy foods and caffeine can help with night sweats and hot flashes.
- Prescription Medications- Hormone replacement therapy is commonly used and for women who have a uterus, estrogen and progesterone are prescribed. For women without a uterus, they are prescribed estrogen alone. Hormones are only prescribed under a doctor’s recommendation and there are other medications available if the woman does not want to take hormones.
- Alternative Therapies- Meditation, acupuncture, and relaxation techniques have been used by some women and they can help greatly. Herbal treatments have also shown success but should not be taken without speaking to a doctor.